A major problem for students is pronunciation and also, in some classes, it can be rather tricky to get the students talking. Obviously, many learners are scared of mispronouncing and ‘losing face’ by their mistake.
This activity helps with both issues.
Arrange the class in small groups and hand each member an card. The students have to read out the information, while the other write down what they hear. Many of my students feel that work is something to be done as quickly as possible, but that will not work in this situation.
Instead, the other team members will need to check what is being said. This encourages slow, clear and careful pronunciation. To assist, use expressions such as:
Can you speak slower, please.
Would you mind speaking slower, please.
How do you spell that ?
Could you repeat that, please.
Sorry, I didn’t catch the phone number.
Let me confirm …
Is that ‘b’ as in blue or ‘p’ as in pink ?
Teachers: adapt to suit the level of your class. Add email address, specific requests etc
One purpose is to encourage writing; a senior Vietnamese official explained to me that Vietnamese customers are not used to writing. In my own experience, I have seen how hard it is to make the class, regardless of age, write down new words. It can take up to ten minutes to get the whole class to write down as little as five words. They have to find paper, pen etc, then they look bewildered at the task presented to them … they will often write down one, maybe one and a half words, then simply stop.
Therefore, I want to get them used to writing from an early age. To facilitate this, allocate a specific time when the lesson stops and the class have to write down new words.
I’ve found that using hand gestures can serve an a mnemonic; allow me to illustrate. I put my thumb up, I then hold my palm up, finally I put my thumb down. This has been used to help students build a sentence with a positive verb, a negative one and an advanced discourse marker.
This helps the younglings remember how to produce a sentence such as:
I can swim however, I can’t fly
The sentence introduces younglings to a contraction (can not = can’t) as well as a higher level discourse marker (or connector) ‘however’ (instead of merely using ‘but’). Furthermore, I drill the STRESS on the negative ‘can’t‘.
So, what vocabulary do they know ?
Thank you for your question. At this stage, they know many animals, basic body parts (finger, thumb, hand etc), about twenty adjectives, and basic verbs.
Additionally, they are able to form basic sentences.
It’s now time to move into present continuous, from “I drink” to “I am drinking.” We shall start by celebrating Mid Autumn Festival, a major holiday in Viet Nam. Here’s a song which uses the continuous “singing,” as well as new vocabulary such as “holiday,” and “lantern.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWwgI17kTs
It is correct to capitalise the ‘m’ in moon IF we are referring to our Moon. We only have one, let’s not upset it (yes, I know it’s a popular question, ‘How many moons does Earth have ?’ and the answer seems to increase every year due to space debris both natural and man-made, not to mention that now some scientists think Earth actually DOES have two … but this is Level 2, let’s not confuse the poor blighters too much).
And now, without further ado …
Warm up games: If possible, make these team games as friendly competition makes the activities more engaging.
Teacher Says – this is great because it is kinetic, and helps to pass the opening minutes while students are arriving.
Word Bomb or Mind Map – board a simple word (e.g. animals), younglings have to shout out answers. Could try colours, body parts, food, clothes depending on class ability.
Magic Bag – I open my bag and ask “What’s in my bag ?” Class has to shout out (or write) possible items I would have in a school bag. This reviews vocabulary from a previous book. As an extension, when they see the item, they have to describe it with two or three adjectives.
Screen Test (based on a children’s TV show from the 70s) – show a short video clip, just a minute or so. Then ask questions. For example, in the Mid Autumn Festival Song, we could ask:
What is the first word we see ?
How many windows does the house have ?
How many lanterns were orange ?
What lantern did the boy hold ? A star, a fish or a doll ?
What colour dress does the girl wear ?
How many dancing moon cakes were there ?
Bonus Question: Can you name 4 different lantern shapes ?
Run and Write – any game that involves the younglings leaving their seats and writing on the board. One version is to have students write a word that begins with ‘a’, then ‘b’ … and so on. Just one person at a time (to avoid possible accidents … I only have limited space in my classroom).
Memory Recall – choose 4 – 6 students and give them a flashcard from a previous lesson. Today, we could use feelings (sad, happy, hungry, thirsty, hot & cold). Younglings stand at the front of the class and hold their card up. Class shout out the words. Then the younglings hide the cards behind their backs and change the order in which they are standing. Now I ask, for example, “What does Ms Linh have ?”
Pair work talking – this is vital in breaking the teacher- student dynamic; we need to promote more student to student interaction, but making this work is a slow train coming. Arrange class in pairs and make them ask each other basic questions. At this age (my class is in the 7 – 9 age range), it may be difficult to get boys talking to girls … at 17 – 19 it may be impossible getting boys to STOP talking to, or trying to impress, girls … but that is a different story.
Subjects could include:
How are you ? (to which the answer must not be “I’m fine.”
What animals do you like ?
What is your favourite colour ?
Do you have a brother or sister ? How many ?
What food do you like ? Can you swim ? Can you play piano ?
Hope this helps. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.
Phrasal verbs: coming out // look after // hang up // turn down // give up // hang out // look up to // take after // turn up
What phrasal verb means:
take care of // spend time with friends // to be like someone // stop doing something // make music louder // make music softer (quieter) // to respect someone // turn off a phone conversation // plan to go outside
Now … your turn
Which phrasal verb would you use?
Many people 1) ………. Nelson Mandela.
In ‘Treeless Mountain’, a young girl has to 2) ……… of her young sister.
She looks just like her mother, she really 3) ………. her.
Learning Mandarin is too hard, I 4) ………..
Are you 5) …… tomorrow night ?
New expressions / vocabulary
unique = one of a kind, there is only one of them, very special
numerous = many
typical = normal, usual
straightaway = immediately, right now
clue = evidence (the police look for a clue.)
I haven’t got a clue = I’ve no idea !
First impressions count = the first thing you see is very important
blows your (my) mind = something so amazing, you almost can’t believe it.
Can’t judge a book by its cover = you can not tell what something or someone is like just by how it or they look.
Now … your turn
What words or expressions would you use ?
1. Can you please send me that email …….. (now).
2. He looks so quiet and nice, but he plays very loud guitar. That proves you …………………………………….
3. Don’t worry, there are ……. coffee shops on the main road.
4. Wow ! He knows so much, it totally ……………. (really surprises me)
5. You can’t replace that broken vase, it was …….. (only one of a kind).
6. What is 1 693 093 divided by 37 ? I …………………………. (no idea at all)
take care of // look after
spend time with friends // hang out
to be like someone // take after
stop doing something // give up
make music louder // turn up
make music softer (quieter) //turn down
to respect someone // look up to
turn off a phone conversation // hang up
plan to go outside // coming out
look up to 2. take care of 3. takes after 4. give up 5. coming out
1. straightaway or immediately 2. can’t judge a book by its cover 3. numerous 4. blows my mind 5. unique 6. haven’t got a clue !
A variety of speaking exercises and pair work to help you on your travels.
Booking a hotel room
adjoining rooms– rooms next to each other
amenities– services, shops, transport
bed and breakfast – small hotel or a room in someone’s house.
complimentary breakfast– free, included in the price.
Deposit – money paid in advance
High season / low season– popular times
housekeeping– cleaning staff
late charge– extra fee for not checking out on time.
Rate– the fee per room per night, per person.
vending machine – machine that sells snacks, drinks.
You are going to Bangkok and need to book a hotel. What questions would you have ?
How much is the rate for 4 people ? What time is check-in / out ?
Could I book adjoining rooms ? What is in the area ?
Where exactly is the hotel ?
How do we get to the hotel from the airport ?
Approximately how much is the taxi ?
Make a list.
Take turns being a tourist and working on front desk / booking.
Language to use:
Receptionist: Greet the guest / Ask for ID (passport, ID card). Check how many nights the guest(s) are staying / Ask to see booking confirmation /
What else could you ask ?
Guest: Explain you have a reservation / Present ID and booking confirmation. Ask about amenities in the hotel and what to see in the local area.
You could check if the hotel has a laundry service // can they book a taxi ? / do they organise tours ? Are there vegetarian restaurants in the area, or banks, money exchange, hairdressers ? What else could you need ?
Now … your experiences:
What was your favourite hotel room and why ?
Conversely, what was your worst room ?
What was bad about it ? In what way were you disappointed ?
How did the service excel ? Was it good value for money ?
Would you strongly recommend it ?
How did you find the staff ? Was it easy to get to ?
A compilation of exercises to practise using the present perfect form
Subject + have/ has + past participle [verb 3]
She has been to New York / They have visited London
I haven’t read The Great Gatsby
I have not seen My Sassy Girl
Have you read Romeo and Juliet?
[Have / has + subject + verb 3 … ?]
Change the verb into the correct form:
I (read) your book several times. I have read your book several times 2. She has (wear) that skirt many times. [worn /wear / wore] 3. My family (visit) Brazil a few times. 4. I (eat) already. 5. Marta (finish) her homework. 6. You (break) the glass again. 7. They (pay) for everything. 8. It (never snow) like that. 9. I (meet) Anna once. 10. We (see) him before.
Change simple past into present perfect
Example – I started a band = I’ve started a band / I have started a band
1 I went to Ha Noi // 2 We explored a cave // 3 I ate cake // 4 We saw a famous building // 5 She buys many dresses and visited many friends
A lesson for all ages and all levels, just adapt to suit your students’ ability. First, show the photos and try to elicit what the buildings are for, or their original function.
For Speaking Level 3 or IELTS-standard students, they can explain their reasons and use target language, adjectives, adverbs and LFW (low-frequency words). Furthermore, it shows students a different aspect of London (it’s not just Big Ben, London Eye and Tower Bridge).
Now, without further ado, the photos:
Was built 1947 – 1963 to be used as a power station (designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who also designed Battersea Power Station and the iconic red phone boxes).
Gallery opened in 2000 by the Queen
Shows British and international art
One of the largest museums in the world
in 2018, there were 5.8 million visitors
Was built 1599, burnt down 1613.
Rebuilt and opened in 1997
Has plays by Shakespeare, as well as modern plays.
Has 857 seats and 700 standing spaces. People who stand are known as ‘groundlings.’
“To be or not to be,” is from Hamlet.
Was built in the 1920s
Only big enough for two people
Has a telephone inside
Made from an old lamppost
Now used for storing brooms
Completed in 1986
Architect was Richard Rogers
Lloyds are a world famous insurance company.
The lifts are on the outside to make more space inside.
It is 95.1 m tall or 312 ft.
New Zealand House
The building was opened by the Queen in 1963
It is the only tall building in the area.
The House has 18 floors.
However … there is something very special for Vietnamese … can you see the blue circle ?
There used to be the Carlton Hotel here, but is was destroyed in World War II
Ho Chi Minh worked in the kitchen at the hotel
Stick fact sheets around the classroom. Students, in groups, have to collect information about basic facts such as when the building was opened, and an interesting fact, then present to the class.
Adult Speaking Classes
Elicit uses of bulidings, then ask them if there are any similar buildings in their city. What interesting buildings would they show tourists ? A student has to describe one of the buildings and the other have to guess which one.
Students are assigned a building and they have to make a presentation of up to two-minutes in length (to practise for the speaking test). They may be allowed to use the internet for additional information but they are NOT allowed to merely read verbatim from Wikipedia !
As this is an IELTS exercise, we are looking for;
Good, strong introduction
Creative use of adverbs + adjectives
Anecdote or a personal review, giving reasons for their thoughts
Today is Independence Day in Vietnam, so let’s start with Uncle Ho, Ho Chi Minh (1890 – 1969). He has some very sage advise, especially for Vietnamese students:
“We need to work much harder.”
Don’t take my word for it, listen to Uncle Ho. Now, let’s go back to Ancient China and listen to Master Kong … Kong Fuzi … Latinised as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC):
Moving forward, and westward, we come to Ancient Greece and the philosophy of Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). I think he deserves two quotes n’est-ce pas ?
Our inspirational journey takes us my homeland, a “Precious stone set in the silver sea,” (Shakespeare, and more from the Bard, later). The court of Queen Elizabeth, and her adviser and alchemist, the mysterious John Dee (1527 – 1608 or 1609), furthermore, the man credited with coining the phrase “British Empire.”
As promised, something from Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
I totally agree. The quote is from Henry VI, Part II.
Yesterday I blogged a database of idioms, collocations and negotiation language. That is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have looked at English-language study books, you will, no doubt, have seen several dictionaries solely devoted to idioms; we use them so often, and there are so many.
For my IELTS students, I have repeatedly taught half a dozen (six) in order for the students to incorporate them into their natural speech … without idiomatic language, you will not break past the 5 score (taken along with grammar, vocabulary and intonation, naturally).
Therefore, for Top Cat students, or anyone looking to learn some more, this blog is for you.
Expressions or idioms
Ring any bells ? // do you remember //
More or less // not exactly but approximately
Get the gist // do you understand the main point ?
Right up your street // this is something you will really like
Rabbit, Rabbiting on // UK slang, especially in London … talking too much
Piece of cake // no problem, very easy, sure
Tongue in cheek // not being serious about something
Now … how you use them:
Student A: Hello, we met last year at Julie’s party.
Student B: Sorry, that doesn’t ring any bells (I don’t remember).
Student A: Are you ready to go ?
Student B: Go where ?
Student C: Cake, food, drink, singing, dancing … ring any bells ?
Student D: Oh, Tony’s birthday party. Sorry, I forgot.
Student A: Are you ready for the test ?
Student B: Yes, more or less.
Student C: I’ll wait for you.
Student D: I won’t be long, I’m more or less finished.
Student A: Do you have to read all the document ?
Student B: No, just to get the gist.
Student A: You should listen to this CD, it’s right up your street.
Student B: Oh, French piano music, I love it. That’s right up my street.
Student A: What did your girlfriend want ?
Student B: She was rabbiting on about something to do with her clothes, I wasn’t really listening.
Teacher A: Hey ! Miss Mary … stop talking. You’re a little rabbit !
Student A: Can you drive me home ?
Student B: Sure, piece of cake.
Student A: Have you seen John’s new shirt ? It’s so elegant.
Student B: Are you serious ? It’s terrible.
Student A: I know ! I was being tongue in cheek.
Now … your turn.
Add the correct idiom [answers at end of blog]
1) Shall we see the new action film ? It sounds ______________
2) Are you still talking ? You are such a __________
3) She said I was the best student but I think she was being ___
4) You said you would bring something … cheese, tomato, garlic bread ____________ ?
5) The IELTS speaking test was a ________ after reading Thay Paul’s blogs (I hope).
6) Student A: Did you understand the project ? Did you ________ of the idea ?
Student B: Well, ______________ but not every single detail.
Right up your street 2. rabbit 3. tongue in cheek 4. ring any bells 5. piece of cake 6. get the gist / more or less.